BEAParticipate: Frank Ybarra and Bambi George

Next up were Frank Ybarra and Bambi George of Applebee’s, a customer of BEA, discussing their corporate (internal-facing) portal and business agility. They’re a public company (for now) with almost 2,000 restaurants in 49 states and 17 other countries, 75% of which are franchised, so they have a lot of internal communications challenges. They use the portal to publish operational changes, such as recipe changes that need to be implemented; sales figures and other branch-specific metrics; schedules and other HR information; and collaboration spaces for project teams such as new country startups.

They’ve had their portal in place for long enough to reach their entire target audience, and are now looking for new content to deliver through the portal to increase its value to the internal community. For example, their head chef (love his title: VP of Menu) writes a regular blog-like column, and answers questions that come in as feedback on the column; once this was put in place, no IT support was required to keep it running since the chef was posting his columns and reading/responding to feedback directly.

They’ve done some manual search optimization to help people to find documents on the portal site, and they’re looking forward to trying out AquaLogic Pathways to see how community tagging and bookmarking improves the search capabilities. They also mentioned incorporating Pages for blogging and other user content creation in the future.

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